Dinosaur Mania! Digging Fossils


Michelle Bertkeby: Michelle Bertke

Both the young and old have a special fascination with dinosaurs.  From the small Nemicolopterus to the larger Sauroposeidon, dinosaurs were magnificent and majestic creatures.  This is a topic students want to learn and adults want to teach.  Luckily, there are many at-home experiments and activities that parents can do to foster their children’s love for dinosaurs.

Impression Fossils

Digging FossilsImpression fossils are one way that animals and plants, which are long since gone from this world, leave their mark.  One easy way to show how imprint fossils are formed is with play dough and plastic creatures.  Students can use the play dough (which is easily homemade) as a medium in which to press the plastic creatures.  This will leave an impression with a certain amount of detail.  Have the students compare the fossil imprint with their creature or mix up the imprints and play a matching game.  Use this activity to illustrate what can be determined from an imprint fossil (size or texture) and what cannot be determined (color).

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The Chemical Spill and the River


Brian Herrinby: Brian Herrin

One of the difficulties of modeling a flowing water system is the size of the system and the quickness of the flow.  This often makes demonstrations hard to visualize as things happen so quickly.  The model I designed uses large transparent plastic cups and clear tubing that connects them to easily demonstrate how a river can become contaminated by a toxic spill or dump and how the toxic material slowly works its way downstream creating devastation along the way.  In time, the river will eventually run clean, but the damage takes much longer to disappear, and some damage may be permanent.

Begin by setting up a mock river system using six to ten separate cups.  There is no limit to the number of cups you can use.  The siphon tubes used to connect the cups are made of 6.4mm (inside diameter) clear tubing cut into 40cm lengths.  You can use aquarium tubing and smaller plastic cups but a slower system will result.  You will need one less tube than the number of cups you use.  For a self emptying system, you can insert a smaller tube into the last cup that empties into a larger container.

Chemical spill set up Read the rest of this entry »